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SF International HS Span Tutor Sees “Old Self” in Students He Helps Meet Challenges and Attain Goals
At San Francisco International High School’s ACE Learning Center, it’s recognized that continuing education is linked to job readiness. The Span Mentor and Span Tutor Program creates jobs that build students’ professional skills and make them more employable beyond the SFIHS community. This is the start of a series of SFIHS Mentors and Fellows who report on their experiences with the ACE Learning Center paid program.
By Guest Blogger Xiaohui, (English name Herry), San Francisco International High School Alumni and Span Tutor and Mentor
My name is Xiaohui and my English name is Herry. I am from Taishan, Guangdong, China. I was born and raised in this small coastal city in southern China. I immigrated to the U.S when I was thirteen years old in 2010. I graduated from San Francisco International High School (SFIHS) in 2015. Currently, I am a second-year student at UC Berkeley. I am studying political science and planning to study political economy as well.
My experience at SFIHS was meaningful because SFIHS provided me various opportunities to learn from the real world, in which books were not able to teach us. For example, School Without Walls allowed us to travel around the city and learn from different places about different topics. I have gotten to know about what I could not learn from school. I visited many organizations that support immigrants by defending their civil rights and providing a voice to speak up for them. I found out that this was what I am passionate about. Soon, SFIHS gave me an opportunity to intern at a political campaign to learn more about what I could do individually to support immigrants.
This semester, I am back to our SFIHS family again, but with a different role. Now, I am working with students as a mentor and tutor with students taking Child Development classes at CCSF. I offer support to students’ homework and share my college experience with them. In addition, I help them with their college and scholarship applications. I wanted this job because I could get a chance to contribute to our SFIHS community in a different way. Since I am more experienced and mature now, I could support the younger students like an elder sibling. This job is sometimes challenging, in which there are things that I do not know because I did not go to their class. But I feel motivated and passionate about this job. I could see my old self from these students since many of them are facing the challenges that I faced when I was in high school. In this case, I feel glad and accomplished that I could advise them and help them attain their goals.
KALW’s Audio Academy Stories Open Up The World, Applications Are Open for Class of 2018, and Slam Poetry Too
By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio
Our news department had a great visit, recently, from one of NPR‘s stars: Kelly McEvers. She’s a celebrated foreign correspondent who has reported extensively from Syria, currently co-hosts All Things Considered, and also hosts Embedded, one of the world’s most popular podcasts that takes listeners behind the scenes of in-depth journalism. She talked with our team about her path to becoming one of the most trusted voices in public radio, about journalistic ethics, and about the challenges of reporting on the Trump administration. It was a terrific hour and a real pleasure to get to know her a bit.
Then we got back to work. Here are some of the stories produced in the last few weeks by the current Audio Academy as well as alumni:
Eli Wirtschafter (’16): What does Trump mean for transportation in the Bay Area?
Liza Veale (’15): Case by case, legal aid attorneys battle displacement in the Bay Area
Liza Veale (’15): Housing vouchers fail the Bay Area
Liza Veale (’15): San Francisco wants to buy out landlords before luxury developers
Jeremy Dalmas (’14): Three months after Ghost Ship fire, many don’t have the option of moving on
Cari Spivack (’17): Trump supporters march in Berkeley
I really can’t say enough about how productive these people have been and what extraordinary work they’ve been doing. In particular, that series by Liza, our housing and homelessness reporter, was the result of several months of work, and those stories have become by far the most popular on KALW.org in the last month. Also, the documentary that Jeremy, our cost-of-living reporter, made is a beautiful, heartfelt, insightful look at the people whose lives have been most affected by that tragedy in Oakland and its aftermath. Powerful listens.
And onward! I’m very excited to announce that we just put a call out for our fifth Audio Academy class! Please spread the word: it’s a really great experience.
Speaking of which, I checked in with Audio Academy alumna Isabel Angell (’14), who has relocated to New York. Here’s what she has to say:
I’m an associate producer for The Takeaway, a national news program from WNYC and PRI, where I work on the morning team producing the live show. I also take stories from pitch to completion, like this one about an ACA recipient who wants Trump to repeal the law. Stories I’m particularly proud of include this piece about the documentary Bright Lights, which I edited in about 90 minutes, and this one about cosplayers of color (starts around 4:20). KALW/Audio Academy really helped me get my radio career off the ground after I graduated college. I got top-notch mentorship and editing and was able to report not only for the station but pitched stories to Marketplace and NPR’s newscast. As KALW’s transportation reporter, I was a guest on The Takeaway talking about Google Buses, which eventually led to my job at the show a couple years later!
And here are some thoughts from our current poet in residence, Audio Academy fellow Josiah Luis Alderete:
When Ben asked me to share some of my impressions about the Audio Academy I panicked a bit because honestly I don’t have any anecdotal examples that are going to show my proficiency increasing with regards to this here radio vida. I haven’t finished any of the assignments that I have been given so far. Also I still can’t do fact checking very well if at all… I am overwhelmed by the information in the daily (and hourly) e-mails that we are receiving… Don’t even get me started on Pro Tools… I can’t apply half of the information that is being presented to me during the lectures because I haven’t been able to apply it yet to anything that I am working on in radio because I haven’t been involved with radio (this kind of radio) yet… However strangely enough even with all these gaping holes in my experience thus far I have yet to be made to feel like the radio tech illiterate ape that I am around here. Every day that I am here some kind KALW familia member answers one of my foolish questions or shows me (or reshows me) something on the computer that tunes me into all of this just a teeny tiny bit more… I am not learning the way they” learn” you in a classroom, I am learning the way that you learn by being in a tribe or in a familia… The veins on Chris Hoff’s neck don’t bulge out as much when I ask him questions anymore… Hannah’s kind “thank you’s” at the end of the dia… Olivia coming to mi casa with flores and chocolates from everyone at the station after Fuzzito passed Honestly it seems to me that the things that have taken place outside of our Audio Academy curriculum are what have been leaving the biggest impressions on me. I am referring specifically to the discussions that I have been a part of here at KALW during this presidential transition regarding the role of journalists and the issues of media objectivity. The times that Ben has taken to discuss some of the notions, ideas, and ideals here at KALW have made me to take a much closer look and to examine my own reasons for doing radio and who I hope to reach con mi radio voz. Not surprisingly the thoughts from these discussions have spilled over into other parts of mi vida and have made me take stock of what my “radio cultural community service” is during our time here in Trumplandia… The circle of all of you the day after Donaldo won, Jen crying questioning her role as a journalist… Ben’s bicycle breathing during the morning editorial meetings… All the pictures on the wall and everybody is smiling the smiles are genuine the kind of smiles that you can hear on the radio… I am grateful for the time that I have been here so far and genuinely look forward to coming in to the station. Ninna took me with her to San Rafael last week to help her translate during some interviews… I did tracking on Holly’s story last Thursday… Re(re)wrote the pitch about the “Valenciazation” of Mission Street and am getting ready to send it to Ben… After following Chris’ outline suggestions I am excited and amazed with how my Portola story came out. (¡It’s a pinch good piece!)… The high school marching band starts into playing in the late afternoon and the Portola starts getting windy…
By Martha Sessums, President, ACE
“What’s different this semester than last semester?”
The question was asked by Kyle Halle-Erby to a group of Span students at City College of San Francisco (CCSF) in the Latino Services Network (LSN) conference room. It was a weekly Monday Span meeting of a dozen students that had graduated from San Francisco International High School (SFIHS) and are now attending college. Halle-Erby is the Span Program Director at SFIHS.
The student’s answers generally had one theme – getting used to fitting a college schedule into a life filled with work, family and friends.
“I’m not so lost this semester,” said Talley who graduated from SFIHS in 2016. “I need to work, and that’s a challenge, but I go to school and chill with my friends too. I’ve gotten used to things now.”
Span is part of SFIHS’s ACE Learning Center that supports high-risk graduates through their first year of college. It is designed to support students through the unique academic, administrative and cultural challenges they face as newcomer immigrants, English learners and first-generation college students on a university campus. The weekly college campus meetings provide advocacy, academic counseling and leadership development for high school graduates enrolled in college.
The major part of the Span meeting was information on applying for scholarships, specifically the Mosaic Scholars Program. This is a $1,000 award paid over two semesters for books, supplies, transportation, childcare and other college-related necessities.
Applying for scholarships is never easy, and I wish I had been given the advice that Anastasia Fiandaca, LSN Counselor, gave to the Span students when I was applying for scholarships. The tips offered were on a flurry of green, yellow, blue and white papers. The discussion included meeting deadlines, following rules, tips on writing the personal statement or essay that is required for most scholarships, along with secrets and tips for getting a great letter of recommendation. Plus a scholarship vocabulary list so applicants can keep up with the discussion.
The advice started with some basics. “Applications are not text messages,” said Fiandaca. “You need to capitalize names, cities, streets, etc. Use blue or black ink, not pencil, and write neatly.”
One of the most important things discussed was how to make a plan to complete the application and turn it in on time. List all the parts that must be completed, make a specific plan for when to work on it, plus plan what is specifically going to be done during the hours allotted. For some people, this is easy. But for students who work, take care of siblings, do home chores, need some time with friends, plus go to school, do the homework and maintain a good GPA, making a plan to complete an application can seem overwhelming.
“Allow a certain number of hours each day, but if you know Wednesday is full with your other responsibilities, then add extra time to Tuesday or Thursday,” said Fiandaca. “Just make sure you make a plan for what you are going to do.”
There was also discussion about the unknowns. What if you really don’t know what your planned major or field of study will be? Fiandaca suggested listing several answers, which will show that the applicant is giving it strong thought.
Another typical question on scholarship applications is to list volunteer or community work. But what if a student is so busy working, dealing with family responsibilities, and going to college that there is little time for volunteer work?
“It’s okay to list that you have a job and doing things to take care of your family,” said Fiandaca. “Just don’t make yourself look like you are lazy.”
The advice for writing the personal statement was a combination of following formatting and length rules, plus giving a true picture of yourself as a person who needs some financial help.
“The organizations that offer scholarships want to see that you work hard, pass your classes, get up and go to work each day and help with your family,” said Fiandaca. “They want to see that the help they offer can help you achieve all that.”
Sai is a SFIHS graduate (’15) interested in applying for the scholarship. His plan is to earn the Culinary Arts and Management degree at CCSF.
“I want to do Indian fusion food and open a restaurant one day,” he said.
Talley wants to major in criminal justice, which will eventually require a transfer to San Francisco State University.
“I was touring a morgue in Mexico City and snuck into the room where they were doing forensics on a body,” he said. “That’s when I decided I wanted to to this. What an adventure.”
And with that, Talley, Sai and the other students were off to class.